Vicente Flores: Tejano Patriot
Vicente Flores, whose full name was Vicente de la Trinidad Flores de Ábrego y Valdéz, was born on February 28, 17 57, in the Villa de San Fernando de Béxar (now San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas), to Francisco Flores de Ábrego y Valdéz and Doña Francisca Álvares Travieso. According toVicente's baptismal record, his Godfather was Franciso Flores de Ábrego of the Spanish Province of Coahuila. Doña Francisca was the daughter of Vicente Álvares Travieso and María Ana Perdomo y Umpienes Curbelo, both of whom were immigrants from the Canary Islands . Thusly, Vicente Flores was a direct descendant of two of the fifteen Canary Island families who arrived in the Villa de San Fernando de Béxar on March 9, 17 31 , and established the first civil government in Texas on August 1, 17 31 .
By the 1770s, the San Antonio River Valley was filled out with ranches belonging to the missions of Béxar and La Bahía (now called Goliad) and to private individuals, some of whom were Canary Islanders, who had received them by royal land grant. Francisco Flores de Ábrego received a grant for a ranch that he called El Rancho de los Chayopines (Ranch of the Chayopín Indians) near present Floresville , Texas , which, incidentally, was named after this pioneer family. In 1758 Vicente Álvares Travieso, who was the longtime first alguacil mayor, or sheriff, of the Villa de San Fernando de Béxar, acquired El Rancho de las Mulas (Ranch of the Mules), on the west side of the Arroyo del Cíbolo near present Stockdale in Wilson County . After the death of Vicente Álvares Travieso on January 25, 17 79 , Doña María became the owner of his Rancho de las Mulas , which she renamed as El Rancho de San Vicente de las Mulas in honor of her late husband. In the meantime, Vicente Flores, who descends from both the Flores de Ábrego and Travieso familes and who married first María Antonia de las Fuentes and second Ursina Carmona from Nacogdoches, eventually became the owner and/or operator of the two ranches On these Béxar-La Bahía ranches grazed great numbers of cattle—progenitors of the venerable Texas longhorn—that provided the connection between Texas and the American Revolution, and Vicente Flores is an important part of that story.
Spain declared War on Great Britain on June 21, 1779, and King Carlos III commissioned General Bernardo de Gálvez (after whom Galveston, Texas, is named) to raise an army and conduct a campaign against the British along the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River. Initially Gálvez raised a force of 1400 men that took to the field in August 1779 and defeated the British in battles at Manchac, Baton Rouge , and Natchez . In March 1780, with land and sea forces numbering over two thousand men, he captured Fort Charlotte at Mobile . The climax to the Gulf Coast campaign occurred the following year when Gálvez directed a two-pronged land and sea attack on Pensacola , the British capital of West Florida . Over 7000 men, including a part of the French Fleet under Comte De Grasse, were involved in the two-month-long siege of Pensacola before its capture on May 10, 1781 . In the meantime, Spanish forces took control of the Mississippi River , over which great amounts of money and military supplies were sent to the American colonists.
In order to help feed his troops, Gálvez sent an emissary, Francisco García, from New Orleans to San Antonio de Béxar in June 1779 with a letter to the new Governor of Texas, Domingo Cabello, both requesting and formally authorizing the first official cattle drives out of Texas . Initially, two thousand head of Texas cattle from mission and private ranches in the Béxar-La Bahía region were trailed to Gálvez's forces in Louisiana . From 1779 to 1782 some ten to fifteen thousand head of cattle were rounded up on these ranches and trailed along the Camino Real de los Tejas from La Bahía to Nacogdoches , Natchitoches , and thence to Opelousas for distribution to Spanish forces under Gálvez.
Spanish Texas rancheros and their vaqueros, many of whom were mission Indians, trailed these cattle. Soldiers from the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar, El Fuerte del Cíbolo, and Presidio La Bahía escorted the herds. Vicente Flores was one of the Tejano ranchers who both provided and trailed the Texas cattle in these first Texas cattle drives that helped win the American Revolution from which we gained the freedom and opportunity that Americans still enjoy—and defend—today.
Spanish documents verify that Vicente Flores was one of the top ten major cattle exporters from 1779 to 1786, credited with exporting 1,259 head of cattle during this period, most of them trailed from Texas to Louisiana between 1779 and 1782. One can only imagine the difficulties and hardships along the way through forests, across rivers and swamps, and against hostile Comanches and Apaches.
After the American Revolution, Vicente Flores, a true Tejano patriot, continued to live in San Antonio and on his ranches until his death in San Antonio de Béxar on February 27, 1815 , just one day before his 58 th birthday. He was buried in the Campo Santo (Cemetery) of San Fernando that eventually became Milam Park and was later re-interred in San Fernando Cemetery Number One.
I feel greatly honored to be one of his descendants.
Sylvia Ann Carvajal Sutton
San Antonio , Texas
Author: Sylvia Ann Carvajal Sutton
Edited: Robert H. Thonhoff
Baptismal Records, Archives of San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio , Texas .
Chabot, Frederick C. With the Makers of San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas: Artes Graficas, 1937).
Jackson, Jack. ( Los Mesteños: Spanish Ranching in Texas , 1721-1821 ( College Station , Texas : Texas A&M University Press, 1986).
Thonhoff, Robert H. El Fuerte del Cíbolo: Sentinel of the Béxar-La Bahía Ranches (Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 1992).
Thonhoff, Robert H. The Texas Connection with the American Revolution (Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 1981).
Thonhoff, Robert H. The Vital Contribution of Texas in the Winning of the American Revolution ( Karnes City , Texas : Privately published by Robert H. Thonhoff, 2006).
Weddle, Robert S. and Robert H. Thonhoff. Drama & Conflict: The Texas Saga of 1776 (Austin, Texas: Madrona Press, 1976).